West Briton, 10 Jan, 1840


SCOTCH TEA DEALERS

Wm. MCGUFFIN, 21, was charged with embezzling money from his master, John MILROY, a tea-dealer of Callington. The parties were both Scotchmen; and the trial excited considerable interest, on account of the facts elicited as
to the mode in which they carry on their trade in this country.

Mr. Coode stated the case, and called the prosecutor, who said that the prisoner had been in his employ, to carry round tea for sale, and to receive the money. Witness paid him yearly wages, or rather he was to have so much at the end of his time. It was prisoner's duty to enter his receipts of money in a book. He had particular rounds every day, and was out two nights in a fortnight. On Monday, the 16th of December, he left Callington in the morning, to go to Launceston, and returned on Wednesday night. On Thursday, he left again for Calstock, and ought to have returned the same evening, about eight o'clock. He did not return that night. He had taken all the money with him that he had received for the week. He ought to have left it in the drawer, as usual, taking but a pound's worth of silver to give change. He did not return until he was fetched by a constable on the Saturday. His book and tea-bag were brought to witness on Friday. The book was here produced; and witness referred to an account entered in prisoner's handwriting, with Miss ROWE of Launceston. Prisoner, on his return, said he handed to the constable 10. 11s. 4 1/2d. of witness's money; and that he had lent 1 to Mrs. TAYLOR of Calstock, and 11s. to Mrs. BAKER, of that place. The warrant expressed 10, and prisoner said he had given up his watch, to make up the difference.

Cross-examined by Mr. John: Had lived at Callington about ten years, and had employed several young men. They had all been Scotchmen. By his arrangement he could not employ others.
Mr. John - So this tea-dealing is a little Scotch monopoly? You have an association bound by rules.
Witness - We have no Act of Parliament. (laughter) we have rules.
Mr. J.- I believe you have a rule to deal with no wholesale dealer if he dares to supply any man traveling in your rounds?
W. - No, Sir.
Mr. J. - What is the resolution you come to with wholesale dealers?
W. - I don't exactly understand you. (laughter)
Mr. J. - I don't think you do. I want to know about this system of tea dealing. Suppose a Scotchman came down to Callington, and went over your country with tea, and he was to buy tea of a wholesale tea dealer, is it not a rule with you not to deal with the man?
W - No, supposing he is an honourable man. (laughter)
Mr. J - Have you a rule among you that you will not deal with any wholesale house that supplies tea to any person interfering with any of your rounds?
W - It is one of our rules. Oh, yes.
Mr. J. - So this trade then is entirely confined to yourselves; and having districts of country marked out for you, you are not to employ Cornishmen,
but confine yourselves to Scotchmen?
W - There are others who travel.
Mr. J - Yes, Sir; but do they form part of your company?
W - Oh, no.
Mr, J - Of course, you would not introduce any but scotchmen among this
Scotch fraternity. (laughter)
Witness proceeded. He had a character for this young man before he employed him. Had made an arrangement that he should go into business, but had not made up his mind as to when. There was no contract about this taking place at Christmas, but there was a talk about it.
Mr. J - Did you, or did you not, tell him that he was to take your business
at Christmas.
W - No, Sir; I did not name Christmas. I said it might be after Christmas. I did not say when.
Mr. J - Probably it might have been the 26th of December.
W - Ah. Probably it might be. (laughter)
Mr. J - How much did you give him a year?
W - I was to give him 25 per year, or set him in business at the end of his
term.
Mr. J - I believe that is one of the rules of your society?
W - I believe it is.
Mr. J - Did he receive his 25 a year?
W - Yes, in goods or clothes. The agreement expressed that.
Mr. J - When was the service out? When did he first come to you from Scotland?
Witness - In July, 1836, and was to serve 3 years. His time would have
been out at Christmas, but in June last he went to Okehampton, and that made it null and void. Witness admitted he had enabled prosecutor to go to
Okehampton, supplying him with tea to sell on his own account. Prisoner
left in witness's hands 10, as a sort of security. Witness had never stated an account to prisoner, and could not exactly say what the balance was, but he believed the prisoner was in his debt now. The account was produced, in witness's hand, written by him in the past week, which was in his favour by 1.12s.10d.
Mr. J. asked if the 10 was credited to the prisoner.
Witness - Oh, I forgot that. (laughter) I am ready to pay him. That is of no consequence. That was a little c.. of a mistake, I think. (laughter) When he was at Okehampton, I used to let him have his tea at prime cost. No profit.
Mr. J - No, of course, with you Scotchmen. (laughter) Was he not to pay
1,000 if bought of any other person?
W - Not at all. He was to buy where he liked.
Mr. J. - Suppose he came within 20 miles of you to sell. Was there not a
penalty of 1,000 according to your rules?
W - There was something like that. (laughter)
Witness did not, on the 21st, the day on which the prisoner was bound over,
know of the shilling prisoner had received from Mrs. Rose. Prisoner told
him of lending spices to Mr. Baker and Mrs. ..[. part missing..]
Witness. - Don't press me too much You should'nt press me. (laughter) I
did not recollect myself for the moment.

Mr. Coode, the prosecutor's advocate, here said to the Chairman, "After this, Sir, I will not take up your time longer on this case." The Bench had previously consulted more than once, as to stopping the case; but were induced to go on, by observations made by Mr. Coode. The jury said they were quite satisfied, and returned a verdict of Not Guilty. The Bench ordered that the prosecutor's expenses should not be allowed.



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